My first business trip, any tips?

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  capetonianm 21 Aug 2019
at 08:32
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  • SAINt
    Participant

    I’ve been working as an IT consultant for Apknite for two years and recently was asked if I’m willing to do project work in another country. I said yes, and now it seems likely that I’ll be working abroad for an initial period of six weeks. I’m from Europe and so is the country I’m going to work at, so I’ll return to my home country for weekends. I’m excited!

    Since travelling for business is a new thing to me, I’m here to ask advice from more experienced business travellers. Any pro tips you’d like to share?


    canucklad
    Participant

    Welcome to the forum SAINt
    If you’re wanting specific advice we’ll need more information particularly where you’re from and where you’ll be working.
    Having said that my 2 top tips are choose an airline and a hotel group, join their loyalty programme before your initial booking and stick to them.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    My top tip for your first trip:

    ENJOY IT! 🙂

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    nibbler
    Participant

    Figure out how you are getting to the airport; if its driving get a car park place close to the terminal – try and avoid busses – you have been away from home for days those 60 minutes getting to/ from your parked car and the terminal become time you could have spent with family / friends. Not so bad for taxi or other public transport.

    Change hotels. A hotel room can feel like a prison quite quickly, even when you come home weekends. Alternatively pick a hotel and make it clear to them in advance they are about to get 6 weeks custom and ask them what they can do to make that stay easier.

    I would ask hotel to clear minibar before you arrive; and find a store and get snacks/ drinks for the week in it early (even airport prices are cheaper than hotel.) Your local contacts should be able to help with that bit; also all if you can leave some things in their office over the weekends to save you dragging things around every week – or if you have excess snacks etc.

    You might consider where the hotel is relative to local attractions, safety of being out at night in the area and to where you are going to work in that order … Work tends to pay for taxi’s to get to office but not for going out for dinner.

    If your company will pay for it try and get lounge access in the hotel. Its a place to work away from where you sleep; and somewhere to meet people. Make sure they will pay for premium wifi if its not included. Some hotels free wifi is terrible; looking at you IHG.

    Eat out. 6 weeks in a hotel, or handful of hotels you will know the menu and crave change.


    capetonianm
    Participant

    Apart from the good tips you’ve been given above, I would add the following.

    My pet hate in hotels is noise, specially early morning. Make sure you get a quiet room, not just the obvious being away from a busy road, but also away from clattering kitchens and storage areas, humming and buzzing a/c units, noisy lift mechanisms with doors opening and closing and people chattering.

    Generally rooms at the end of a corridor tend to be quietest as there is no passing traffic, and are sometimes bigger. I like to be on a high floor, and I won’t stay in hotels where I can’t open the windows, even if only by a few inches.

    Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to show you a room, and another, and to change, and change again, if you’re not happy. You are the customer, and in this case a long term one, and you crack the whip. If they know you are fussy, but you are pleasant about your requirements and in discussing anything you’re not happy with, you will almost certainly find they will look after you. It’s always worked for me.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    nevereconomy
    Participant

    Apart from all the great advice, if you like a glass of wine while you relax in your room, pack a corkscrew in your hold luggage as not all hotel rooms have one..
    I also used to take a proper knife fork and spoon so I could buy cheaper interesting food out and still eat in a civilized manner in my room. I am sure you will,
    like all of us, become addicted to travel. It has its downside, being away from home, but the rewards are tremendous.


    Sanran
    Participant

    Hi SAINt
    Talking about flights and accommodations, try to remember that upgrading is much easier than downgrading. Don’t try to experience the best all at once and all at the beginning, as the future could be worse.
    Once you experience business, premium eco sounds not enough, once you go in F, business is not nice anymore and once you fly on a private jet, F seems so average…that’s extreme, but it is reality in my opinion.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    SimonS1
    Participant

    Take the time to find the schedule that suits you, and the accommodation that meets your needs.

    I commuted to Italy weekly for 18 months, after about 6 weeks I found a comfortable place and stayed there almost permanently on the same weekly flights. Sounds a bit boring, but pretty much the same pattern as if I had been commuting domestically.


    canucklad
    Participant

    I suffer from cabin fever and staying in my room every night would have driven me crazy. To avoid that and remembering that you actually have work in the morning a wee bit of planning always helped me.

    Have a reason to go for a wander , whether it’s doing the touristy thing or doing something similar to what you’d at home. With that in mind get yourself (if it exists) the local equivalent of an Octopus Card to us on the transit system .

    Find a local pub that shows Sport and a pool table. And if you do like football plan going to the pub to catch games you want to watch. Even better, check if the local team has any midweek fixtures.

    When you’re out and about and you pass a take-away/delivery restaurant pop in and grab a menu , you’ll eventually get fed up with the hotel choices.

    Like Martyn said, take the opportunity to enjoy the experience / adventure .
    And you can’t do that by staying cooped up in the hotel. However get to know the most important member of the hotel staff–the barman


    Poshgirl58
    Participant

    In addition to everything above, don’t forget security. If you’re representing a client, it’s their reputation on the line too.

    Working in IT you already know how to keep information safe; paperwork should be protected too. The friendly stranger in the bar may have another reason for buying you a beer or three, so be vague if asked about your job.

    Get to know the area where you’ll be staying, before you travel. As with leisure travel, ensure you have relevant insurance.

    Enjoy your trip!


    cwoodward
    Participant

    Further to the excellent advice given above in your situation I would seriously consider ditching the conventional hotels mentioned and opt for one of the many apartment hotel options that have blossomed in most cities over the past few years.

    These apartments have most of the normal hotel facilities but offer much more besides.

    Normally there is a decent fully equipped kitchen and washing machine etc and no compulsion to purchase comestibles from the hotel. Most also have a gym on premises or free access to a local establishment.
    They normally offer a decent dining table and many offer and encourage residents to use nearby restaurants who will deliver food from there normal menus as they often do not have their own dining facilities.
    Apartments are serviced in the normal way but depending on the property this may be less than every day.
    A huge advantages of the hotel apartment option is freedom, often much more space, and no need to use the costly hotel services.

    These apartments are normally the same or often less costly than traditional hotels.
    Apartment hotels like to have long term guests and often offer substantial discounts for monthly stays which also would offer you the option of staying for the weekend at no additional cost and have your wife or partner to stay and no need to lug your belongings back and forth every weekend.


    Yrna
    Participant

    Hi – I’d like to suggest that you look up the door-to-door travelling times by plane, and compare those to the train journey.

    At first, that may make one think that of course flying is quicker, but in some cases, by the time you’ve added the time to get to and from the airport on either end of the journey, and the check-in time, a train can actually be quicker. This is especially so between two cities where the central train station happens to be closer to where you live and where you’re going to work, or on a fast local municipal train route.

    In that calculation, think, too, about what you can do with the time. Depending on your kind of work, the way you relax, and on your personality, working or resting in an airport, in a plane, in a station or in a train will have more or less appeal. Also think about your physical state and which mode of travel enables you to arrive more relaxed. Trains tend to have more space than planes.

    If the distances are long, consider overnight trains, too. Even if that means arriving home, say, on Saturday morning instead of Friday evening, it can be a big difference of quality of life if you arrive relaxed and ready to take on home and family life. Or in the opposite direction, ready to start work fresh from a good night’s sleep, rather than stressed from the air travel.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    capetonianm
    Participant

    Good advice about the train, which in general is more pleasant than flying, but of course whether it’s practical or not depends on your city pair. Sadly it’s often far more expensive than flying, and there are very few overnight trains now in Europe, I used to enjoy the ones between BCN and ZRH, they are no longer. I think there are still some AMS-WAW and LIS-MAD and some maybe still out of VIE.

    An excellent site for rail information is http://www.seat61.com.


    JohnnyG
    Participant

    I also advocate either taking a small camera or using a smartphone. I find that by taking photographs of my visits it reminds me of the good and bad of areas or events occurring. It’s also a great reminder in years of where you have travelled.

    Audiobooks for chilling out or even language learning, likewise kindle books.

    After a few trips analyse what you actually want / use in the hotel. Is it comfort and feeling good or having facilities such as a pool etc that you don’t use.

    Look at other hotels in the area for future reference just in case your preferred hotel is unavailable. Try their bar or restaurant.

    Finally get to know the concierge, they are a mine of information.


    SenatorGold
    Participant

    Apart from the good tips you’ve been given above, I would add the following.

    My pet hate in hotels is noise, specially early morning. Make sure you get a quiet room, not just the obvious being away from a busy road, but also away from clattering kitchens and storage areas, humming and buzzing a/c units, noisy lift mechanisms with doors opening and closing and people chattering.

    Generally rooms at the end of a corridor tend to be quietest as there is no passing traffic, and are sometimes bigger. I like to be on a high floor, and I won’t stay in hotels where I can’t open the windows, even if only by a few inches.

    Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to show you a room, and another, and to change, and change again, if you’re not happy. You are the customer, and in this case a long term one, and you crack the whip. If they know you are fussy, but you are pleasant about your requirements and in discussing anything you’re not happy with, you will almost certainly find they will look after you. It’s always worked for me.

    I certainly agree with this advice, especially about being prepared to change rooms as many times as necessary in order to get the room you want. My request – communicated in advance to the hotel either by email or phone call – is for a room without an interconnecting door and situated far from any elevator.

    Many hotels – if not all – tend to allocate less than desirable rooms in the first instance, just waiting to see if there’s any objection. Almost invariably a request for another room results in a better room. Being meek and mild doesn’t pay. Being firm yet polite about what you do want does. Be aware that hotels can try to take advantage of your checking in at an odd hour in order to give you a terrible room on the assumption that if it’s 4am you’re going to be too tired to make a fuss. However, occasionally (only very, very occasionally in my experience), checking in late at night can mean that the only room left is the Presidential suite.

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